New Church Worthies

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Bayley


And the Church in London

IN my early visits to London, to spend a short time with the good old man whose name is at the head of this sketch was an enjoyment to me, and seemed ever pleasant to him. His house was halfway down Pentonville Hill. He was tall and impressive in appearance, though beginning to stoop from age, kind and genial in his manner, always delighted with spiritual things, and rich with the experience of long-life. Everyone seemed then to know of "Dunn's Essences," but everyone did not know that Mr. Dunn was an aged New Churchman.

He gave you the idea of an Old Prophet more than any man I ever knew. Wise and worthy sayings were constantly dropped from him. A sketch of him can therefore hardly fail to be useful and interesting.

Mr. Dunn was born at Netherton, near Dudley, Nov. 26th, 1773. His father and mother were strong-minded, excellent people, but not joined with any religious body. The old gentleman was wont to say that his father's creed was the one which our Lord furnished: "To do unto others as you would they should do unto you;" and he practised this doctrine in his life. His mother was a very notable housewife, and excellent woman, who always strove to inculcate in him the love of work. The old gentleman delighted to tell that his mother used to say to him, "I know thou wilt work, Danny, and father will make thee work, but I want to see thee like it." And the young man did like it, and continued to like work to the very last, as long as he could use his head and his fingers.

Mr. Dunn received the doctrines of the New Church when he was a young man working at Dudley, at 23 years of age. He was working with a pious young man named Piper at a church, and Piper pleased young Dunn from the delight he seemed to have in making the communion table, and doing his very best to it, because it was for the worship of the Lord. Young Dunn had obtained from the conversation of an old man previously, the true idea of the Lord Jesus Christ being the only God, and the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being in Him. On speaking of this with Piper, the latter told him that these views were, he believed, preached in Birmingham by a minister named Proud, and they were something new. The two young men determined to go to Birmingham, eleven miles, and hear this remarkable preacher; and they went on foot there and back on the Sunday.

They were delighted with what they heard, and from that time continued to attend regularly, still walking the distance, and ever charming the way by conversation on the great things which the preacher had opened to their eagerly receptive minds. This continued for about three years, until young Dunn undertook a situation that removed him from that part of the country. Wherever he went he continued to read the writings of the New Church, to associate with the receivers of them, and to exemplify them in his life.

He settled in London about sixty years ago, and since that time he has been connected with all the movements of the New Church in London. He attended Friar Street, and his name was the third entered on its list of members; and subsequently, when the Friar Street Society joined with others and formed the Society in Argyle Square, he was a member and attendant there until increasing infirmities confined him to his house. Then his room became a resort of intelligent friends who delighted in New Church conversation; and the wise and cheerful sayings of Mr. Dunn were the delight of many who loved to call upon him, and led not a few to associate themselves to the New Church in outward worship, when he could no longer lead them externally thither.

Mr. Dunn was extremely ingenious, inventive; and practical. He was originally a scythe maker, but afterwards turned to the nail trade. He soon saw the importance of improving the nails for horse-shoes, and invented a nail which became well known in the trade, both in this country and in America, as Dunn's nail. He subsequently invented many other contrivances, having several different patents; and a great number of improvements which he gave to the world from the love of use, without any patent at all. He was the associate of John Isaac Hawkins, and many other scientific minds. Some fifty years ago his mind was turned to the idea of extracting the essence from hops, in consequence of the large export trade in the article and its bulk. A considerable business was attained, but Mr. Dunn felt somewhat uneasy at his time being taken up entirely with what was not altogether free from unpleasant associations. He had too much to do with brewers.

Some one suggested to him to try tea and coffee. He did so, and succeeded admirably, and went from one thing to another with his extracts and essences until he came to cocoa. This greatly delighted him, for he felt that in the preparations of cocoa there was a most nutritious, healthy, and pleasant addition to England's beverages; and he went on improving that to the utmost, and it became in his hands a great and important business, to which he attended as long as health and strength permitted.

He used to say when he turned his attention to it that chocolate was only an article of luxury, enjoyed by the rich; but it was an excellent article of food, and he was determined to bring it within the reach of the poor. He first made it soluble, and continued his attention to it until a comparatively short time before his death. He ever sought in his manufactory to preserve everything pure and genuine, so that New Church principle might run through his trade. At one time so many adulterations were introduced into the business by unprincipled imitators and rivals, that Mr. Dunn's business was in great danger from cheapness, induced by spurious ingredients; but Mr. Dunn held on his way unswerving; and after a time the genuineness of his business triumphed, and he achieved a complete success in trade as well as in principle.

The benevolence of Mr. Dunn shone conspicuously in his life during its entire length after boyhood. When he was in his teens he commenced the first Sunday School in Netherton, and although his income was only £60 per annum, he spent £10 a year upon this Sunday School. Though three times married, he never was blessed with any children of his own; but, nevertheless, his house was never without a child in it, either an orphan or the child of some poor friend adopted and brought up by him. It is said the number of such children is over FORTY. Many of them are now in good positions. Other children he sent to boarding schools, and he also educated at day schools a considerable number.

When his workmen's wives brought an addition to their families, it was a common thing with Mr. Dunn, on the new comer being announced, to send a sovereign and a kind word to the mother. One female, on the day of his funeral, named that she had received thus seven sovereigns, and a relative four from the same kind hand. When a young man got married his considerate master always gave a kind present to assist the young couple in their house furnishing.

The result of such a life was in old age a tenderness of character, a sweetness of disposition, a grateful regard for the Lord Jesus Christ his Heavenly Father, most striking and touching to notice. His voice would tremble with emotion when he spoke of the goodness of the Lord. He never seemed as if he could speak with tenderness deep enough of the Divine mercy, and tears would flow down his benevolent face when he contrasted, as he sometimes did, the goodness and pity of the Lord with the folly and evil of man.

His circle of friends and work-people was numerous, and from the words and countenances of all on the day of his funeral, at which I officiated, was evident the feeling that pervaded them all.

Thus ended, at nearly ninety years of age, the life in this world of one of the very salt of the earth, one of the world's best and greatest.

His remains were interred at Highgate, on the 15th May, 1862. His workmen followed, and where they could bore the coffin, and many there were whom he had befriended in early life, many of his own work-people who loved and wept for him as a father, many old friends who had walked with him in the paths of heavenly wisdom, many who had taken sweet counsel with him, and to them all it was evident his memory was fragrant with tender recollections, and the feelings of all seemed to say, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."

In the Highgate Cemetery, where may be seen the tomb of Mr. Noble, and where have been laid the remains of many New Church brothers and sisters, on a square block of marble, the emblem of his character, may be read the following epitaph on the worthy subject of our sketch:

"If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments."
Entered the Spiritual World May 8th, 1862, in his 89th year.

In early life a diligent student of the
He became convinced of the Sole Supreme Divinity of the
"God Manifest in the Flesh" (1 Tim. iii. 16),
"The Only Wise God our Saviour" (Jude 25),
"In whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. ii., 9).
He therefore addressed his worship to Him alone, and zealously kept His commandments, turning many to righteousness by well-timed precept, and still more by the example of his own holy life.
Pious in Youth,
Earnest and Upright in Manhood,
Devout and Childlike in Age,
He was a worthy pattern of the faithful Christian to whom Heaven is not merely a glorious prospect, but a cherished and present Possession.

To perpetuate the memory of their venerable and esteemed employer,
With the assistance of their friends, have erected this block of marble, in testimony of their admiration of his upright conduct and Christian benevolence towards them, during a long series of years; and of their respect for him as a Master, and their love for him as a Friend.

Top | Previous Chapter: Mr. Wild | Next Chapter: Mr. Glen | Table of Contents